Liquid Intelligent Technologies (formerly Liquid Telecom) and Facebook have announced a partnership to build an extensive long-haul and metro fiber network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which will ultimately connect to the planned 2Africa undersea cable.
The new fiber network will help connect East and West Africa by land, and Liquid says it is expected to improve Internet access for more than 30 million people and help meet growing demand for regional connectivity across Central Africa.
The social media giant will invest in the fiber build and support network planning while Liquid Technologies will own, build and operate the fiber network, and provide wholesale services to mobile network operators and Internet service providers.
Liquid says it will employ more than 5,000 people from local communities to build the fiber network in the DRC.
The network will help create a digital corridor from the Atlantic Ocean through the Congo Rainforest, the second-largest rainforest after the Amazon, to East Africa, and on to the Indian Ocean.
"This is one of the most difficult fiber builds ever undertaken, crossing more than 2,000 kilometers of some of the most challenging terrain in the world," said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.
Liquid Technologies has been working on the digital corridor for more than two years, which now reaches Central DRC. This corridor will connect DRC to its neighboring countries including Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The new build will stretch from Central DRC to the Eastern border with Rwanda and extend the reach of 2Africa, a major undersea cable that will land along both the East and West African coasts, and better connect Africa to the Middle East and Europe.
Facebook is one of the major partners in the 2Africa cable project along with China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4 with 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
"Liquid Technologies and Facebook have a common mission to provide affordable infrastructure to bridge connectivity gaps, and we believe our work together will have a tremendous impact on Internet accessibility across the region," Rudnick added.
"This fiber build with Liquid Technologies is one of the most exciting projects we have worked on," said Ibrahima Ba, director of network investments, emerging markets at Facebook.
"We know that deploying fiber in this region is not easy, but it is a crucial part of extending broadband access to under-connected areas. We look forward to seeing how our fiber build will help increase the availability and improve the affordability of high-quality Internet in DRC."
Liquid is present in more than 20 countries in Africa and recently reached a major milestone, passing 100,000 km of fiber in Africa.
— The Staff, Connecting Africa
A version of this story first appeared on Connecting Africa.